An iPhone case that charges your phone with solar panels, an app and website for keeping track of student meal points, and a barber shop to go in Campus Town were the three final business models competing in the third annual Mayo Business Plan Competition on Wednesday, April 9.
“This competition is a lot harder than you may think,” dean of the College’s School of Business William Keep said.
Keep said that 36 teams had signed up for the competition, but only 22 were able to even submit a business plan by the due date.
“It’s very exciting,” he added.
The three final student teams had one last chance to impress a panel of judges with a 30-minute presentation, as well as answers to the judge’s many questions. The judges for the competition were all alumni of the College with various business backgrounds.
“Students come out of school ... go to their job and are asked to make decisions and judgments under uncertainty, and that’s what this competition fosters,” judge and alumnus of the College Eric Szabo said.
The winning team, Solar Kicks, designed a prototype case that used a solar panel attached to an iPhone case with a hinge — working in conjunction with piezoelectric crystals, the case will charge a phone while sitting with a user on a table or while she goes for a jog.
Team members, senior finance major Gregory Fitzgerald, junior mechanical engineering major Luke Capritti, junior electrical engineering major Eric Blow and senior accountancy major Steven Leming, were awarded $16,500 toward their business. The second-place team, Barber by Touch, received $9,000 and the third-place team, TCNJBudget, was awarded $4,500.
“I want to thank Professor Mayo for coming to me three years ago and saying, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this?’” Keep said of the competition.
This year, the competition awarded a total of $30,000 to finalists, $10,000 more than previous years. Money for the competition is donated by Herbert Mayo, a finance professor at the College, and by Eric Szabo, an alumnus from the class of 1997.
TCNJBudget’s presentation opened with a video of students in the C-store guessing how many points they had and then looking at their actual balance upon receiving a receipt. Most of the students’ guesses were off by a considerable amount.
The app and website designed by the students would not only display how many remaining meals a student has with Get-It Points, but would also provide graphs showing where points are spent and on what items.
The team, consisting of senior accounting major Howard Telson, senior finance major Steven Schrum, senior accounting major Alexander Pacione and senior English major Chad Berman, explained that the website will also help to teach students personal finance.
“Those points will quickly turn into bills,” the team members explained.
Barber by Touch closed out the competition. The team walked in to the cool sounds of jazz, waving and winking to one another as they sauntered their way to the front of the room.
“We believe that when you look good, you feel good,” sophomore biomedical engineering major Peter Okoh said in the opening of the team’s presentation.
Barber by Touch, to be opened in one of the Campus Town rentable spaces, would offer males cuts, shaves, manicures and pedicures. What was unique about the team’s plans for the shop, however, was that it would also be a social outing. The shop would have televisions for sports, a billiards table, magazines and an open layout to promote good conversation.
Barber by Touch was a team of three students. Okoh was joined by sophomore finance major Ashwin Tatikola and sophomore economics major Karthik Sunkesula.
When the final presentation came to a close, the judges left the room to deliberate and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the three presentations.
“This was the toughest year by far,” Szabo said. “Every idea is viable.”
The final deciding factor — beyond the details of each plan — was the passion each team showed. The judges felt that Solar Kick showed the most enthusiasm and dedication to their product.
“You won’t mind if you fail,” Szabo said. “But you are going to try and succeed like hell.”